okay, so i went to see bandstand the other day (7/15/17), and i wanted to be able to write down all my thoughts, so welcome to my ramble/review. (it’s less of a review and more of a list of things that left an impression on me and things you wouldn’t be able to get from the soundtrack)
i’m gonna start off by saying that i adored the show, even before stepping into the theater, and that this is completely unorganized and out of order, so sorry.
a few things i absolutely loved (aka all the things):
- the lighting !!!
there was a such a creative use of lights that really helped bring the emotions and scenes to life.
they used a lot of different colors and spotlights (and obviously different levels of brightness).
they also played around with shadows in order to create shapes and make it seem like the scene was set outside
the lighting really evidentially changed whenever any of the characters (mostly donny) was going through a war flashback
they used red spotlights at one point during one of donny’s flashbacks, illuminating the soldiers, and it really made the terror of the scene feel real
they also used blue lighting for a lot of the flashbacks and that was really great too
they had square spotlights and it was cool
i just really liked the lighting
- the soldiers !!!
they used people from ensemble dressed as soldiers to visually represent the ghosts/memories haunting the characters and it was amazing
while donny is playing the piano at one point there are soliders lying across the top of the piano, all piled on top of each other. but once he starts to write the music to accompany julia’s poem (love will come and find me again) they leave and come back only for a short time as they run/dance across the stage.
there’s a scene with all the boys (except donny) and they’re doing everyday activities, but there are soldiers following in their footsteps, matching their movements, as if they were their ghosts.
wayne has a scene where he checks his watch, cleans and assembles his gun, puts it away, checks his watch, and cleans and assembles his gun. for this whole scene there’s a line of soldiers behind him or spreading out, clapping constantly to represent gunshots.
the constant reliving of the moments before michael is almost always accompanied by the presence of soldiers
- music/sound effects !!!
the repetition of the line “it’ll be just like it was before” happened a lot and it was A+
when donny was convincing julia to practice with the band (after their performance of first steps first) they resign some of the lines from first steps first and it fit the scene really well. julia sang a bit of it while she was along and then donny sang “starting is daunting true, trusting in something new, fearful your luck will be reversed.” at the end of this scene julia says there’s a lot she wants to know about michael and donny sings the words" first step’s first" before leaving.
the war tune from the beginning of just like it was before was repeated a lot
obviously the songs are amazing, you don’t need me to tell you that
- right this way !!!
okay this is a combination of almost everything i’ve talked about so far plus a little more
the lead up to this song - WOW. they have an argument with one of the people involved in the contest about having to pay their own expenses for the trip and having to go through another audition and they’re all upset and angry and ready to give up
throughout the argument and after it’s over there are spotlights flashing on all the boys along with an utterly jolting and terrifying sound effect.
they’re all walking away/turning away except for donny and julia
the spotlight flashed again and the sound effect rings out, but this time donny falls to the ground in obvious pain (julia quickly drops down to see if he’s okay)
then the first few lines of the song are sung. these are the words that michael told donny, the words that create that fantasy that he’s working towards. there is so much pain in the way this is portrayed and donny and stays on the ground for a while, seemingly frozen/unable to get up.
as he keeps singing, the other boys start to turn back around to face him one by one as they are convinced by what he’s saying
some of them start to turn around again until donny starts singing an out his time serving, then he has their full attention, because they know exactly what he feels like
the whole song was so emotional and phenomenal
at the end they’re all lined up at the front of the stage singing, and boom that’s the end of act one
- the scene where donny tells julia about michael
well, i cried.
she’s impatient and desperate to know what happened at this point, so she keeps firing out questions and thoughts. she talks about him being buried in a place where she’ll never go and how it keeps her up at night wondering if his hands were crossed, if his suit was pressed, if his hair was combed the right away.
donny tells her she doesn’t want to go where he’s buried
“i’m still waiting” - julia
donny, evidently overwhelmed, starts shouting that it’s not like the movies. there were no hands to cross, no suit to press, no hair to comb, no body to bury.
donny and michael were camped out in a trench for three days without sleep being fired at by the enemy
it’s dark and raining and michael decides that they need to get out
they’re going to throw grenades and either fall back or charge
michael throws the first grenade and gets close enough that they start firing
donny pulls the pin out of his grenade and it falls into the mud
he’s searching for it frantically but he can’t find it. he can’t see.
he yells get out
he jumps out and rolls down the hill, knowing that michael has to be behind him, because he said get out
he rolls into a foxhole and feels the grenade go off
and michael isn’t with him
julia is begging him to stop by the end
he’s crying while he tells the story, choking on words
she runs away, telling him to “go home, donny! just….. go home”
donny stands there unmoving. the scene changes around him, but he doesn’t move.
a ringing is getting louder and louder. it almost sounds like it’s the beginning of another flashback to that moment
there’s people talking to him (the band, the owner of a club they’re playing) but you can’t hear them
the noise fades away
their gig started twenty minutes ago, julia isn’t there
he calls her house, her mom answers and says she’s sick
and donny is broken. he masks it, but he’s so obviously broken
- the aftermath of the scene above
this is after julia’s mom sings everything happens and talks about how much the boys have seen and how much pain they must be in
julia is sitting in a chair in her house, but around her the boys (except donny) all gets spotlights and chairs spread out around the stage.
wayne has his briefcase with his gun in it open on his chair
johnny is curled up in the chair
everybody is displaying some of the worst parts of what the war has done to them
and julia is watching
she then writes welcome home
- welcome home (finale)
the amount of emotion everyone was showing was amazing
it’s as sad as it sound when you listen to it
- the emotion !!!
there’s so much emotion in this story. you can tell, at some point, how utterly broken everyone is
they’ve all lost the people who they were because of the war, and it’s heartbreaking
- there’s a single exchange between donny and julia that is quite literally resonating in my bones
“i don’t need rescuing” - julia
“maybe i do” - donny
- when the band found out that they had signed off the rights to their song (they’d been scammed)
basically, nbc got all rights to their song. the band only had to be in the background of the movie, they didn’t have to let them sing their own song. if they wanted to perform their song again they would have to pay nbc
he gives this emotional speech and it ends with “they wouldn’t know sacrifice if it slapped them in the face”
this then cues donny’s idea of “slapping them in the face” by performing welcome home - a song they would never dare put in a movie
- johnny !!!
overall? the guy was great
slow in the head due to his injuries but it was used for comical purposes sometimes
has a tendency to forget things
over and over and over mentions how his jeep flipped three times while he was in it
kind of a dick
played with two bands, waiting to see which one would have a better song to win the audition in cleveland (however did tell donny that they needed a better song)
literally a constant jerk
* not the best at all, but his actions were somewhat understandable because of what he’d been through
* only liked him when he let wayne live with him after his wife and kids kicked him out/left him
- davy !!!
a completed jokester
really good at hiding how much the war affected him
pretty great tbh
had a few serious moments that were made all the more important by his constant comedic facade
constant “screw this, screw them” attitude
- wayne !!!
had what seemed to be ocd and was a germophobe
VERY affected by the war
after coming back he ran his house like his wife and children were soldiers because he just couldn’t not do it
very put together and organized but obviously ready to break at any point
had a very emotional moment during right this way while donny talks about his time serving
said donny and julia deserve all the happiness in the world and i love him for it
- jimmy !!!
stuck by donny the whole time
he was awesome
he was the one who figured out they’d been scammed because he read over the contract they signed and actually understood it unlike the other bands (due to him studying law)
i just really loved him
- julia !!!
sensitive and strong woman
didn’t give in easily
if i were to actually talk about her in depth i would just talk about every scene
so just know that she was amazing and i love her
- june adams (julia’s mom) !!
another comic relief character with serious moments
super nice and sensible
- donny !!!
he’s in so much pain
you feel for him so much throughout the whole thing
same goes for him as it did julia, i love him too much and i feel like this already too long so i’m gonna stop
- how they got the money to go to new york
this was so touching!
the clubs in cleveland (organized by oliver’s) banded together to collect extra money in order to pay for the trip
they got them hotel rooms and first class tickets for the train
it was beautiful
- when the donny nova band (featuring julia trojan) played the revised version on welcome home for veterans and their girls
donny gave a speech afterwards
he talked about how they might not make it to the broadcast
he talked about how julia used the word hero in the song, but he didn’t know a single veteran who felt like a hero
he says that the wrong guys made it home (talking about him and michael) and i cried
- when donny and julia had dinner
julia’s mom was hilarious
donny brought pictures of michael and him from their time serving
he was showing them to julia and she started to break down
- just like it was before
all the more emotional live
in case you wanted to know, donny gets very drunk during this song as we see him spiraling downwards
in the beginning, julia is cleaning up around the house while the war scene is playing out around her
when donny yells get out for the first time he’s standing next to her toward the front of the stage and then she receives the telegram right after
she falls to the ground crying and her mom comes to comfort her/take her off stage
- why donny was so set on his fantasy
his fantasy is taking train in first class to new york and staying in a fancy hotel
he’s not doing it for himself, he’s doing it for michael
- the instruments !!!
w o w
there are no words to describe it it was just great
okay that’s all i’m gonna put here (feel free to ask me about anything and i’ll tell you what i can remember).
overall it was a beautiful show and i am beyond giddy that i got to see it (and that it was my first show !!).